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Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. As I watch and listen to so many fantasy baseball owners make the same mistakes each and every year, I can’t help but think of that quote. However, in this case, because this is supposed to be a fun game, my declaration of people’s insanity has much more of a Montgomery Burns “Oh Ziggy, will you ever win?” spin on it. It’s more of a sympathetic sadness than it is contempt. So when I now give you a list of potential pitfalls, don’t be insulted or get defensive. Just listen, digest and know that it’s all coming from a place of love. Fantasy baseball love that is.
Now I don’t want to get all religious on you here, but as I look at one of my teams sitting at the very bottom of the standings in one league, I am reminded of a very important biblical quote that you should always pay very close attention to, especially if you’re dealing with a certain amount of fantasy frustration. “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.” You know how some coaches have inspirational quotes hanging in their offices? Well, this one is hanging in mine and it is specifically directed towards the sharks in every league who think they smell blood in the water just one week into the season. Three guys hurt on my roster isn’t exactly chum, but there they are, circling and ready to strike.
This is one of my favorite times of the fantasy year. We’re a little more than two months into the season and the standings are starting to shake out. The contenders are all trying to position themselves while the lower end of your standings is either fading into the background or, if you’re in a keeper league, waiting for their team to be plundered with the hopes of snagging some vital protects for next year. The trade talk is abundant, the negotiations are fierce and little by little your entire life is consumed with baseball. Sounds ideal, yes? Yes it does.
So here we are at the end of April where, for the most part, the hot starts begin to cool off and, with luck, the cold ones begin to heat up. Full-time starters have roughly 80-90 at-bats under their belt and your sample size arguments for why things are the way they are, start to dissipate. That doesn’t mean that all players are leveling off right now – some still have some work to do. Yes, Albert Pujols, I’m looking in your direction. But when you’re sitting there wondering what to do with your guys like Nolan Reimold, Jordan Schafer or Jose Altuve, watching their every move right now is key. They’re all off to hot enough starts that they have some decent trade value, but if they start to go into the tank because they’ve been playing over their head for the past month, your window of opportunity to reap some of the value in a trade will begin to close very rapidly.
While remaining patient in fantasy baseball is one of the most difficult things to do, it is also one of the most critical at this time of year. Sitting back and watching underperforming players is ridiculously frustrating, especially if those that aren’t pulling their weight are the ones you were relying on most, and their lack of production has you sitting, if not all the way at the bottom of your standing, at least real close to it. But as we get set to enter the final week of April, your patience with these players is now more important than ever.
Talk to any hardcore numbers guy out there and ask about some of the hot and cold starts to the season and they’ll tell you the exact same thing – small sample size. We’ve got a long way to go before these numbers have any sort of a major effect. With only a small handful of games in the books, an 0-3 start is not the end of the world. There are still 159 games to go, so simmer down, Yankees and Red Sox fans. Austin Jackson is batting .571 while Matt Holliday is hitting just .167? Relax. We’re less than 20 at-bats into a season in which both will see atleast 500 more. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement as we wrap up the first weekend of baseball, but if there’s one piece of sound fantasy advice you’re given every year, it is to be patient. The fantasy season, like real baseball is a marathon, not a sprint.